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When the Six Pack of Your Youth Becomes a Keg – Midsection Exercises

When the Six Pack of Your Youth Becomes a Keg – Midsection Exercises
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By Michael Spitzer

In today’s article we will look at the midsection and important exercises that will help you to tone and trim this part of the body.

Midsection

Very few people today, much less those of us in our 50s are happy with our waist and midsection. The “middle age spread” seems more common today than sand on a beach.

As we discussed earlier, the real “secret” behind a trim and firm waist is diet. An overweight person can perform 1,000 sit-ups per day for the remainder of their lives or invest in every type of tummy shaper advertised on late night TV with no visible results.

There is an old saying “You can’t flex fat”. The message here is no matter how firm the stomach may be, it will never be visible if it is hidden under a blanket of excess fat. Sit-ups and any other form of abdominal exercise will strengthen the muscles of the midsection, but they will not “burn” away the fat in that region.

It is also important to remember that excess body fat accumulates from the inside out.

This means if you can “pinch more than an inch” or otherwise feel you look overweight around the middle, then you already have substantial excess body fat inside your body surrounding your organs.

Let me reiterate this fact one more time … Diet is crucial for losing excess body weight.

With this fact in mind, let’s continue our discussion of the midsection.

In recent years, the concept of training your body’s core has become a popular trend. In essence, the idea here is to strengthen the entire region of the body that helps stabilize the spine and pelvis.

As an aging individual, we have similar goals. When we design an exercise regimen for our midsection, we are not only focused on the abdominal muscles but also the lower back, lower pelvic region, and lateral sides of the waist.

Exercising the midsection for people over 40 is intended to strengthen the entire region to help improve posture, maintain flexibility, minimize risks of hernia, and reduce problems associated with lower back pain. Our regimen for exercising the midsection will be a bit different than what we do for other body parts. In this case we will be performing a few different exercises.

You will perform one (1) set of each exercise in succession. The goal is to perform 20 repetitions of each exercise, although it is to be expected that some people will only be able to perform half that many at the beginning.

That is OK. We are trying to improve ourselves here. If you were already in perfect shape for your age, it is a good chance you would not be reading this article or my book.

Individuals already plagued with a history of lower back problems should consult their doctor before performing most of these exercises. While all the movements shown here are time tested and well documented as excellent exercises for training the midsection, it is possible that certain readers may have unique spinal problems that could be aggravated by repetitive waist motion.

So, if you have no serious back problems, and your personal physician agrees you can benefit from the program described in these examples, let’s get to work on that midsection.

Crunches

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Starting Position

Lie on your back with your heels resting on the surface of a bench or other flat surface. The height of this support should be such that your thighs are perpendicular to the floor. Your knees should be in an approximate 90 degree angle.

Cross your arms in front of your chest or at the sides of your head. (See Photos)

Movement

Earlier we discussed proper breathing techniques when exerting force to lift a weight. That wisdom also comes into play when exercising the midsection. When training the waist, we want to avoid building up intrathoracic pressure inside the abdomen. This is achieved by remembering to exhale when crunching forward and inhaling when lying backwards.

Keeping this breathing rhythm in mind, slightly raise your hips off the floor, suck in your stomach slightly, while at the same time curling (crunching) your upper body forward towards your knees – effectively shortening your torso. Be sure to exhale during this entire forward motion while feeling the contraction in your whole abdominal region.

Comments

The crunch replaces the common sit up most of us did back in school. Since that time, several studies have revealed that the traditional sit up is not as effective as the crunch for targeting the abdominal region. In fact, the common sit up shifts much of the work to the hip flexors and can also aggravate lower back pain.

The crunch looks like a simple exercise with a small range of motion, but it is actually a bit tricky to perform properly. In order to be totally effective, you must simultaneously raise the hips slightly, exhale your breath, curl your body forward, and suck your waist in slightly.

Don’t think of sitting up as much as curling your upper body forward like those small worms you sometimes see in the garden in the spring time. You may need to experiment a little with the timing of your small hip lift, breathing, sucking your stomach in, and curling forward – but once you do the motion properly and feel your abdominals doing all the work, you will never forget the feeling.

People often remark they only feel tension in their upper abdominals when they do crunches. When performed as described above, you will feel the entire abdominal region contributing to the effort. You will then have mastered the crunch.

 

 

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